Word and Phrase Origins

What does the saying You have more excuses than carter has liver pills come from and its meaning?


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2011-03-22 02:26:08
2011-03-22 02:26:08

in 1868, Dr. Samuel Carter of Erie, Pa. compounded a formula which he thought was good for sick headache and torpid liver (both "positively cured"), also indigestion, constipation or what-ails-you.

The tiny, white-coated globules, have recently been found to be an irritative laxative (with one of their ingredients described as "drastic"), and have no medicinal effect on the liver.

Mandrake & Aloes. Dr. Carter sought his raw materials in nature. Podophyllum resin, or podophyllin, is the resin of the dried root of the mandrake or May apple; Carter combined this with the dried juice of aloes. He chose as his trademark an overstuffed black crow, which gave a nice zoological balance to Bull Durham's bull on the nation's barns. By 1880 the growing business was incorporated. Millions of pills were shipped all over the U.S. and abroad.

Half a century later, a new advertising technique gave the sexagenarian business an added boost. The ominous crow was retired; the slogan became "Wake up your liver bile!" Jingles urged readers and radio listeners: "When you feel sour and sunk, and the world looks punk . . . Take a Carter's Little Liver Pill." Carter's went on to claim that the increased liver bile would enable the pill-taker to overeat and overindulge in "good times" without morning-after regrets, to wake up "clear-eyed and steady-nerved," "feeling just wonderful," and "alert and ready for work." Copywriters combed the thesaurus and found no less than 30 synonyms for the sluggishness which the pills were said to cure.


To actually answer your question: This is an old Southern (Southern US) saying that came about because of the high number of pills that were sold by this company. They sold thousands, hence the meaning "you have more excuses that Carter has little liver pillls (thousands)".


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